Dulcius Ex Asperis

by Andrew Ross

Invisible and terrible
A virus stalks the land.
It floats across the atmosphere
And moves from man to man.

A tickle in the throat perhaps,
A muted sneeze to start.
A dying gasp,
The poisoned asp,
It still remains as we depart.

A pestilence like those we see
In dusty books of history,
And like a speck of dust it floats
Within the air, in search of hosts.

How can it be in modern times
That we cannot ameliorate
With modern meds
In modern beds
The agonies of ancient Fate.

And fear, another ancient foe,
Has settled in our hearts.
Slaying reason, dimming thought,
Laying waste to mind and art.

Thick in the air, miasmic fear,
It’s heavy and it’s hot.
To breathe in deep,
To live; to sleep,
It’s hard when plague’s in every thought.

We quarantine ourselves at home.
The city streets are still.
A loneliness pervades the land,
A pall over the hills.

For how can men, such social souls,
Not keenly feel the loss
Of firm handshakes,
The gives; the takes
Life’s civic joys and public costs.

And yet, as we retire home
We find ourselves again.
Wife, mother, father, son and our
Beginning and our end.

A quiet world that’s lacking the
Loud city’s hue and cry.
A time to think,
Recharge the links
That make our lives worthwhile.

This too shall pass, this fearful plague
That lives in air and hides in cloud.
This too shall pass, this pestilence,
This madness of the crowd.

And when Spring’s sunlight shines again
With luck we’ll then recall.
The love that binds,
The cherished time
That’s given to us all.

A gratitude for what we have,
Our families and our homes
A thankfulness for everything
Remembered, once alone.

Soon, soon, I hope we shall begin
Renewal and repair
Of time and grace
Of a grateful place
The silver lining of despair.


Andrew Ross is an emergency physician and author of The Sweet and Bitter Taste of Moonshine and The Meteorite (both novels).



CCP Virus (Covid-19) Advice in the Style of The Greats

by Susan Jarvis Bryant


Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your cool, not go bananas,
When your last roll is down to just one sheet;
If you don’t lounge all day in your pyjamas
And keep the house respectable and neat;
If you can shun all thoughts of wine and whisky
Until the sun is setting in the sky;
Stay trim, alert and pert and fit and frisky—
Then you have far more stamina than I.


Edgar Allan Poe

Snub the sweet and all things dairy, keep your weight light as a fairy,
Never eat more than you need and don’t exceed consumption’s law,
If you’re nodding, nearly napping, and you hear the fridge door flapping,
As temptation’s gently rapping, rapping at your old fridge door.
‘Tis some beaming, scheming demon, tapping at your old fridge door—
Munch on kale and nothing more.


Emily Dickinson

Because they could not stop Wu-Flu
It blithely stopped for me—
Confinement wounds the boldest soul
Oh, when will I be free.

Boredom bites behind the door
That smites my liberty
My labor and my pleasure too
Are under lock and key.


John Masefield

I must go down to the store again to score a toilet roll,
And all I ask is the shelves are filled with a gift that makes me whole;
And it’s soft and strong; a siren’s song to a bottom’s painful yearning—
A derrière in need of care leaves fevered buttocks burning.


William Wordsworth

I wandered once, a jocund cloud
That floats on high o’er coastal plains.
Now I avoid the roving crowd
To stop the spread of aches and pains.
Although pissed off (I’m shut away)
My quarantine may save the day.



NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

CODEC Stories:

19 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    Susan, those takes on five great poets are witty, sharp, and truly effective.

    It’s hard to do a good parody of a poet unless you know the poet’s style very well, and have equal skill in versecraft yourself.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      I thoroughly appreciate your fine eye and I’m thrilled you enjoyed my take on the Greats… ‘equal’ is a huge compliment, but hey, I’ve gotta stick with hubby – ‘superior’ would’ve been better

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Mr. Salemi – I hope you know my comment comes with a wink 😉 I do know my place in the literary hierarchy:)

  2. Rod

    Amazing skill Susan and quite hilarious! I just read them out loud to my wife and we started Easter Sunday with great mirth -thank you!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      I’m thrilled to have made a very strange Easter better. I’m glad you and your wife enjoyed my quirky humor and I wish you both a blessed Easter.

  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Andrew, it’s great to share a page with you. I too hope for a silver lining amid this despair.

  4. James Tweedie

    Andrew, I was touched by the pathos, passion, and compassion that resonated in your poem. I was glad that you found a way to end it on a hopeful note. The phrase, “The silver lining of despair” is a thought worth holding tightly during these days of retrenchment and the reassessment of our priorities.

    A blessed Easter to all.

    • Andrew

      Thank you James for such kind words. I hope you were able to enjoy a wonderful Easter as well.

  5. Jan Darling

    There cannot be another site that offers both erudition and entertainment in such measure. Thank you Andrew and Susan.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      You are most welcome, Jan. You’re right about the site – it’s a privilege and a pleasure to be part of it. Here’s wishing you a lovely Easter.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.